Oct 21, 2017

Cabbage Stir-Fry with Sweet Flour Paste/Tien Mien Jiang (甜麵醬高麗菜)

Sweet flour paste, or sweet flour sauce, sweet bean sauce, tien mien jiang, is kind of like an Asian version of black roux. It is basically made with fermented soybeans, so why the flour paste name? I guess judging by its appearance and texture, this blackened seasoning does somewhat look like something mixed with flour, thick and paste-like. 

You can often find sweet flour paste served alongside Peking duck, it's one of the common sauces used when wrapping up that crispy duck skin. Another popular way to use this sauce is by adding it to stir-fry cabbage. You'll be amazed how can a simple veggies stir-fry turn into a rice-killing dish.

Cabbage stir-fry with sweet flour paste (甜麵醬高麗菜) - 


  • 0.5 lb shabu pork slices
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 small or medium cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 1 to 2 red chilies
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sweet flour paste
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 


Peel and slice the onion, garlic cloves, and carrot. Tear the cabbage into large bite size pieces. Destem the chilies and slice diagonally. 

The seasonings are quite heavy for a veggies stir-fry dish, so there is no need to pre-marinate the pork slices.

Drizzle some oil to a big pan or pot, turn to medium high heat and add in the onion slices. Also add in some salt and black pepper. Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent. 

Add in garlic and chili slices. 

Cook till the garlic turns slightly browned then add in the pork slices one by one. Continue to sear the pork till about 70% cooked through.

Time to transfer the cabbage and carrot to the pan. I prefer a softer bite for my cabbage so the cabbage was added to the mixture early on and cooked longer. If a crunchier texture is preferred, use very high heat and quickly stir-fry the cabbage. I mean "very high" heat, like fire surrounds the wok kind of flaming power. It should only take about 30 seconds to one minute and you'll end up with that wonderful wok hei aroma.

So for my gentle version, cook till the cabbage softened a little then add in the sweet flour paste, oyster sauce, and some Chinese rice cooking wine. Mix and cook till the veggies reach desired texture, also make sure the sauce has been reduced, almost all dried up so to speak.

Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Otherwise, make sure the rice is ready to be devoured!

Other cabbage recipes:

Oct 15, 2017

Not the Prettiest but Still Hit the Spot - Vietnamese Spring Roll

Made a few mistakes for this recipe. First of all, I over-estimated my wrapping skills, so there it went a few destroyed hand rolls. Then I used smaller rice paper, which made it even harder to maneuver. There's a saying right? Practice makes perfect. Well, these spring rolls are still far from perfect, but at least they can finally hold up the shape and ready to be munched by hand.

Vietnamese spring roll -

Ingredients (makes about 8 to 12 smaller ones)?

  • 8 to 12 Vietnamese spring roll rice paper (16cm or about 6.5 inch in diameter)
  • 10 or about 100 grams medium shrimps
  • 1 small bundle or about 30 grams glass noodles
  • 1/2 small cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint (can be substitute with cilantro)
  • Small bundle Chinese or Thai basil leaves
  • Some lettuce leaves


  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 lime (for the juice)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
  • 1 red chili, destemed, finely chopped (can be substitute with Sriracha sauce)


Mint is preferred, but if you can't get a hold of it, cilantro works as well. Finely chop the mint leaves or cilantro. Julienne half of the cucumber. Rinse and pat dry the lettuce.

Peel and devein the shrimps. Bring a pot of water to a boil then quickly cook the shrimps. Drain and wait till the shrimps cool down. Slice the shrimps in half and set aside for later use.

Cook the glass noodles first till desired texture, drain and set aside to cool down. Pour a little oil and mix with the noodles if the noodles tend to stick together. Mix in chopped mint or cilantro leaves along with some julienned cucumber.

If you never work with Vietnamese rice paper for spring roll before, it's kind of fun! 

The rice paper might feel like a piece with thin plastic at first, but once soaked in warm water, it'll turn into almost translucent soft wrapper in seconds.

Oil the surface where you're going to make the spring rolls. Lay down soft rice paper then transfer halved shrimps and basil leaves on top. Remember the bottom part is going to be the one showing when rolled up, so the prettier sides of these ingredients need to face down.

Add one layer of lettuce then transfer some glass noodles mixture over. Start with just a small amount at first in case the filling overflows when rolling up the rice paper.

Cover the glass noodles with another layer of lettuce.

Roll up the rice paper, also fold in both the right and left edges, then continue to roll up the rice paper till it shapes like a small tube. It's nearly impossible to get it perfect on the first try so don't get discouraged when fillings start to fall out or ended up with misshaped spring rolls. Just quickly stuff these not so perfect creations into your mouth to destroy the evidence. 

After a few tries, you should be able to get some better looking spring rolls and time to take some pictures!

As for the dipping sauce, simply mix all the ingredients under the sauce section. Make sure the sugar is full dissolved, you can also substitute fresh chilies with Sriracha. The one showing in these pictures are the mixture of some hoisin sauce, Sriracha, etc. Frankly speaking, I was frustrated from rolling up these finger food and got a little lazy on the sauce. 

On top of the actual dipping sauce and my lazy dipping sauce, some like their spring rolls with creamy peanut sauce, but let's keep it simple first, till we master the art of Vietnamese spring roll making. 

Other Asian appetizer/side dish recipes: